Monday, December 30, 2013

Carsharing Comes to China via the Kandi Machine

 It would appear that the Chinese economy is already hooked on the prosperity from a thriving car industry, even though their highways are already over capacity (like some other countries I know), and many Chinese cities face terrible air quality problems.  Carsharing to the rescue?  And EV carsharing could be an even better strategy for minimizing pollution from motor vehicles.

Unfortunately, many Chinese cities seems to be unable to see the value of "good" cars in carsharing fleets and have not developed pro-carsharing policies.  But that may be changing, thanks to the leadership of one city, Hangzhou, a city of 8.7 million people, already a transportation nirvana with the largest bikeshare network in the world.

My friend and transportation visionary, Dan Sturges, forwarded this very informative video from Novem ber 2013 about the Chinese carsharing system developed by Kandi Technology Group.  It shows the JL7001BEV, a Smart-car look alike EVbut with a back seat, which they've developed.  The carsharing service is being launched in Hangzhou.  The video also shows the automated "vehicle dispenser" towers, which have gotten a lot of attention in the western press.


The service is charging a rental rate of $3.25 per hour.  Currently vehicles must be returned to the originating garage but plans are to allow one-way between garages.  In addition to the garages, Kandi has deals to provide vehicles at hotels in Hangzhou, as well.

This service will certainly be a force to reckon with in Chinese and possibly Asian carsharing if they keep on the course reported by investors:
  • 10 completed garage towers in Hangzhou, with 18 in various stages of construction; ranging in size from 30 to 300 vehicles (as of Dec. 2013) with talk of up to 750 parking towers.
  • Up to 100,000 EVs
  • Expansion to provinces of Shanghai (next), Jiangsu, Shandong, Hainan, and Chengdu in 2014
Kandi Carsharing is a $160 million joint venture of Kandi Technologies and Shanghai Maple Guorun Automobile Co., Ltd (99% owned by China automobile manufacturer Geely, which also owns Volvo).  

Kandi cars and high speed rail are a step in the right direction, but, given the smog in many Chinese cities these changes can't come soon enough.